I believe in the “never say never” mantra. However, there are exceptions—like jumping out of an airplane. I can say with 99.9% certainty that I will never jump out of a plane, possibly even if my life depended on it. I did get a chance, though, to experience the exhilaration of freefalling, without the fear of crashing smack dab onto the ground, with the iFLY Chicago indoor skydiving experience.
I was reluctant at first. I thought for sure I’d have to jump off of a platform, but then I read that you can do it whether you’re 3 years old or 103. Certainly no mother in her right mind would allow her three-year-old to do something dangerous.
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iFLY is a wind tunnel that can generate wind speeds of 130 mph or greater. It’s the wind that pushes you up and keeps you up. There is no jumping from anything required. I’m getting ahead of myself, though. Let me tell you the process from the beginning.
Our group of a dozen or so first watched others fly, including children. One at a time, horizontal on their bellies, an instructor would hang on, then let go, and they’d float up high into the flight chamber and back down again.
Corralled into the training room, we watched an orientation film explaining how the wind tunnel works and instructing us how to position our bodies: belly down, head up, arms forward and bent inward, legs bent at the knees. Our instructor followed up with live instruction, showing us hand signals he’d use to remind us to keep in the correct position. It’s loud in the flight chamber, so we wouldn’t hear verbal cues.
Once we were fitted with jumpsuits, helmets and goggles, we were led to the chamber, lined up on the bench in the order we’d be flying. Each of us would have two one-minute sessions.
As I entered the flight chamber, the instructor motioned me to bend my body forward, arms in front, head up. He would continue throughout the session to use the reminder hand signals and to move me around.
In the second session, having the basics down, it was time to have more fun. The instructor held on to me, guiding me high into the flight chamber, spinning around and then letting go, up and down, around and around. I was a tad nervous knowing I was so high in the air, yet it was exhilarating.
After our group finished our second sessions, four instructors entered the flight chamber and performed an amazing acrobatic show, coordinating tumbling, spinning, flying high, flying low, all on a cushion of air.
iFLY Chicago Locations
iFLY Chicago has two locations: 5520 Park Place in Rosemont and 1752 Freedom Drive in Naperville. Visit the web site for details, including restrictions, or to book a flight.
Disclosure: My visit to iFLY Chicago was hosted by the Village of Rosemont and iFLY Chicago. However, all opinions are my own. Photos by Skip Reed.
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